The Glory Years of Sir Freddie Laker
1922 - 1982
Sir Freddie Laker was one of Britain’s most renowned entrepreneurs. After leaving school at age 16, his early years include the Berlin Airlift, Aviation Traders, the ‘Accountant’ aircraft (designed to replace the venerable DC-3), Air Charter & Channel Air Bridge, the innovative Carvair and his tumultuous years at BUA. Freddie was a millionaire before he’d turned 25.
After starting Laker Airways following the tragic death of his 17 year-old son Kevin, Freddie built the airline into a powerhouse, specialising in the European and North American markets. He then took on governments on both sides of the Atlantic for the licences to fly his revolutionary ‘Skytrain’ service, for which is he is most known. Laker’s Skytrain created hysteria akin to a grass roots movement. It gave the opportunity of affordable air travel between the UK and the USA to millions who could never before have the experience. The impact of Skytrain was pivotal in President Jimmy Carter‘s deregulation of the U.S. airline industry. Numerous airlines followed Laker’s example to the point that now, his original low-cost / no-frills model has become the industry standard for many of the world’s air carriers.
Fueled by commercial success followed by a well-deserved knighthood, Sir Freddie embarked on a massive expansion programme. He purchased many more aircraft, took on immense financial commitments and sought hundreds of routes across the globe. Laker Airways was one of the top six transatlantic airlines by 1982 and Sir Freddie had made enemies amongst his competitors, who conspired against him. Despite monumental efforts to assist Laker Airways with a refinancing plan, a perfect storm of events brought Sir Freddie’s airline down on the 5th of February, 1982. Now, for the first time, the complete story of Sir Freddie and his brilliant, ambitious business ventures is being told. Originally, this book was slated to be published by The Myrtle Press in 2016 and entitled Icarus. Ania Grzesik had already done several years of research into Laker Airways and its aftermath, including the unprecedented billion-dollar antitrust case that followed the demise of the airline. During the research phase, Grzesik was urged to contact Greg Dix, who had been with Sir Freddie for over 20 years through some of perhaps the most significant and tumultuous periods of his life, including the final, climactic years of Laker Airways. After initial reluctance to delve into the past, Dix was eventually persuaded the book was a sound project and it soon became clear there was a substantial story to tell. So in mid-2016, Recursive Publishing Ltd acquired the intellectual property with Grzesik and Dix co-authoring. In mid 2018, they changed the title from Icarus to LAKER: The Glory Years of Sir Freddie Laker.
The authors were keen for the book to contain inspirational ‘life lessons’ for the benefit of others, especially those in the business world. Entrepreneurs, managers, business owners, and graduate students all stand to gain insights from Sir Freddie's many decades of business experience. LAKER is much more than a 'business biography' and those who prefer fiction may enjoy reading about Freddie's life, as it often resembles a novel. Sir Freddie Laker was one of Britain's folk heroes in the seventies. This is the story of his life up to February 1982 and his unequalled contribution to civil aviation with Laker Airways. ISBN 978 0 0056486 09 £20 (Hardback UK)
ISBN 978 0 9992934 09 $28 (Hardback USA) 608 pages and three 16-page galleries (330 total images)
"The book serves as a history of post-war aviation as well as being a strong and engaging biography. It presents a generally sympathetic portrait of Sir Freddie, but it doesn’t shy away from pointing out his flaws too."
Moneyweek - March 2019
"Thanks very much for the well researched tome on Freddie. I thought that throughout the book his personal and managerial styles were accurately portrayed."
Robbie Robinson- former Finance Director, Laker Airways Ltd.
WOW – certainly delivers the facts without fear or favour, took me a week in quiet time but loved every page and every reveal. A real labour of love and dedication. Congratulations all round.
Athol Guy, former Director - Laker Airways Australia;Founding member of The Seekers and former MP for Victoria, Australia
“As an account of the 16 year life of Laker Airways, this is the authoritative version. From my perspective riding the roller coaster, the book is wholly accurate. Full of triumph and failure in equal parts, it is a well written page turner.”
John Jones - former Commercial Manager, Laker Airways Ltd.
"Congratulations - an incredibly well researched and detailed account told in a very factual non-biased way .. of particular interest to all of us ex-Laker employees but a also a recommended read for any budding entrepreneur."
Paul Bridgland - Former Laker Airways crew member
“An amazing book and fascinating insights into the DC-10 - and of course Laker.”
Geoffrey Thomas - Administrator DC-10 Appreciation Group